Iranian state media has called for the US to be expelled from the 2022 World Cup after the US Soccer Federation changed the Iranian flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
The federation had temporarily displayed the national flag of Iran on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. A now-deleted Group B standings image posted on Saturday showed the Iranian flag with only the green, white and red colours.
US Soccer told CNN on Sunday it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to “show support for the women of Iran fighting for basic human rights,” but always planned to go back to the original flag.
The change “was a one-off image,” U.S. Soccer told CNN. “We have the main flag on our website and other places.” The emblem is currently back on the flag on US Soccer social media channels.
A State Department spokesman told CNN it did not cooperate with US Soccer in the sports body’s decision to change the Iranian flag on their social media accounts to show support for protesters in Iran.
“We look forward to a peaceful and competitive match on the field. The United States continues to find ways to support the Iranian people in the face of state-sponsored violence against women and a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters,” the State Department told CNN.
Iranian state media reported on Sunday that the United States should be immediately expelled from the tournament and suspended for 10 matches for a “distorted image” of the country’s flag.
“By posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account, the #US soccer team has violated the @FIFAcom charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate punishment,” said Iranian lawmaker Tasnim . That writes the news agency on Twitter on Sunday. “Team #USA should be kicked out of the #WorldCup2022.”
FIFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Iran and the US face each other in a crucial Group B game on Tuesday. It is a must-win draw for the US if it wants to progress to the knockout stages.
Iran appears at this World Cup in the shadow of domestic unrest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, has said the country is in a “full-blown human rights crisis” as authorities crack down on anti-regime dissidents.
Protests, referred to by experts as the most significant since the establishment of clerical rule following Iran’s 1979 revolution, and violence have rocked Iran in recent months and the nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years. is endangered. .
The trigger was the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police, allegedly for not adhering to the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response.
The latest controversy comes after a troubled day leading up to the clash between the two teams in Group B in Doha at Al Thumama Stadium.
US Soccer’s decision came on the same day that former US Men’s National Team (USMNT) head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he will try to talk to Iran’s manager, Carlos Queiroz, to “calm things down” after Klinsmann’s comments about Iranian culture were labeled “outrageous”. comments.”
After Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales on Friday, Klinsmann discussed Iran’s attitude to the game of football on a panel discussion on the BBC, led by Queiroz.
“That’s their culture and that’s their way of doing things and that’s why Carlos Queiroz fits very well in the Iranian national team,” said Klinsmann. “He wrestled in South America. He failed with Colombia to qualify, then he failed with Egypt to qualify as well and then just before the World Cup he went back and led Iran where he had been working for a very, very long time.
“This is not accidental. This is all on purpose. This is just part of their culture. That’s how they play it and work the referee. You always saw the bench jumping off, always busy with the fourth, the linesmen and the fourth umpire on the touchline, constantly in their ears. They are constantly in your face on the pitch.”
The 1990 World Cup winner continued: “This is their culture and they make you lose your focus and your concentration and what really matters to you.”
On Saturday, Queiroz responded to Klinsmann a series of tweets.
“Even if you don’t know me personally, you question my character with a typical biased judgment of superiority,” Queiroz wrote. “No matter how much I can respect what you did on the pitch, those comments about the Iranian culture, the Iranian national team and my players are a disgrace to Football. No one can harm our integrity if it is not at our level of course. ”
Queiroz added: “As an American/German, we understand that you have no support. No problem. And despite your outrageous comments on the BBC that try to undermine our efforts, sacrifices and skills, we promise you that we will not pass judgment on your culture, roots and background and that you will always be welcome in our family.
Iran’s Football Association, in a statement, demanded that Klinsmann apologize and resign from his Qatar 2022 Technical Study Group position at FIFA. Iran said it has asked FIFA “for immediate clarification on this matter”.
CNN has reached out to FIFA for comment, but has not received a response at time of publication.
On Sunday, Klinsmann said on BBC Breakfast: “Things were really taken out of context. I’ll try to call him and calm things down. I never criticized Carlos or the Iranian bank. Some even thought I was criticizing the referee for not doing anything about the way they behaved on the bench.
“All I described was their emotional demeanor, which is actually admirable in a way. The whole bank lives the game. They jump up and down and Carlos is a very emotional coach. He is constantly on the sidelines and tries to give his players all his energy and direction.”
The federation invited Klinsmann to visit Team Melli Camp in Doha and “for a lecture on millennial Persian culture and the values of football and sports.”